Cody’s Ultimate Guide to Deadlifts: Why deadlift? In a nutshell, the deadlift will strengthen all major muscle groups, and is one of the most effective ways to build muscle, strength, and mass. No other movement works the upper & lower body as efficiently as the deadlift.
Deadlifts work the back, glutes, legs, arms, wrists/grip, shoulders, and traps. Practicing deadlifts is a great way to prevent common injuries, especially in the back & knees (ACL especially).
Deadlifting is also a highly functional movement. By this we mean the fundamental deadlift movement – bending down & picking up something very heavy – is a skill that comes in handy in the “real world” all the time! Additionally, deadlifting is great for all-around core strength, working the entire posterior chain, lower back, abdominal muscles, to better support your body in nearly any position & movement.
- Stand over the barbell, with feet shoulder-width apart, and the bar positioned over the center bridge of your feet.
- Bend down to grasp the bar, with your arms touching the outside of each leg.
- Push the hips back & keep your back straight. Your knees should be very bent, and thighs are close to parallel to the ground.
- Push with the legs and keep the bar close to your shins & thighs as you straighten up.
- All torso movement should stem from hinging forward & back from the hips. Never let your back curve or slouch forward.
- Reverse the movement and lower the weight back down in a controlled movement. All rules & technique for lifting also apply for setting the weight back down.
This is the most common & natural grip choice for beginners. Stick with this grip option until your deadlift gets so heavy that grip becomes a limiting factor. That’s when it’s time to switch to a mixed grip.
This grip positions one hand facing you, and one hand facing away from you. It should be used on heavy deadlifts, and works better to keep the bar between your fingers. The traditional double overhand grip has the potential to let the bar slip down your fingers, but with a mixed grip the bar has nowhere to go.
The hook grip uses the same double overhand position, but is modified slightly so that your thumb is locked in under your fingers. In this grip, a hook is created on the bar between the index & middle fingers. This grip tends to be favored by Olympic weightlifters.
This is the deadlift that’s illustrated & described under the “technique” section, above.
This variation uses a very wide stance and shortened range of motion, often allowing one to lift heavier than if s/he were performing a traditional deadlift. Place feet as wide apart as comfortable, feet turned out, and use a mixed grip. The glutes and hips will be engaged much more in the sumo deadlift, as you are sitting back much more during the pull.
This under-appreciated deadlift variation uses the wider snatch-grip for the lift. This wider grip forces you into a lower starting & ending position, increasing the overall range of motion. The snatch-grip deadlift hits the entire back, hamstrings, and glutes much harder than the traditional deadlift.
Like the name implies, this is a deadlift done with straight legs, meaning all of the pulling power comes from the hips & posterior chain. This is great for targeting core strength, but also has the biggest risk of back injury, so start with a lighter weight than usual.
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